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Using black-and-white decor in your home

Spot color appears especially vibrant on a background

Spot color appears especially vibrant on a background of black, white and gray. Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Choosing a color is one of the hardest decisions to make when decorating. Homeowners will spend hours trying to find just the right shade for their homes or decorating projects. But sometimes, the right color is no color. Just like black-and-white photographs have a way of sharply focusing on the subject, black-and-white decorating in the home does the same thing. It is chic and, in its simplicity, creates a stunning combination. More than the absence of color, a black-and-white scheme is the addition of drama and elegance.

Balancing act

There’s a good reason the black-and-white checkerboard floor pattern has been in style so long: It’s classic. Black and white can seem both contemporary and enduring, all at the same time. The best part about using a black and white pairing is that each one keeps the other in check. Too much black can be overpoweringly dark, but once you add white drapes, carpet and flooring with black walls, the room springs back to life. The same is true of white. When there’s an overabundance of white, it’s a lot like looking at the sun; it’s overwhelming and feels flat. Black brings white from the edge and anchors it.

Decorating tips

Using black and white in a room lends an air of sophistication. Add in another color, whether that’s emerald, butter yellow, teal or red, and you have instant vibrancy. Or, consider adding metal colors, whether that’s gold, stainless, pewter or anything along the gray spectrum, and the black-and-white decor has another dimension of elegance. Another fabulous non-color is clear. Add ghost chairs to the bar at the kitchen or add a pair of chairs on either side of a console in the foyer. Clear adds flair without detracting from the black and white.

Keep black and white interesting by coordinating various patterns, from hound’s tooth to stripes or even toile. Of course, there can be no more ultimate decorating pattern than a zebra pattern. Throw in a faux zebra rug on the floor, over a chair; try a zebra-patterned throw on the foot of the bed, or use in upholstery. The natural black and white of zebra makes a fabulous pairing in any black-and-white decorating scheme.

Black walls are beautiful and add drama. Simply keep floors and ceilings white, and you’ve got a dramatic backdrop for your bed, a sofa or any furnishings. Trim woodwork in white and add white drapes for extra drama. Beige is another color that goes beautifully with black and white, so toss in some throw pillows or seating to keep the contrast from becoming too stark. For another layer of interest, try adding molding to your black walls painted in a bright white. The look is adds pure stylishness.

Or, if you prefer country style, paint walls in a bright white, add in a checkboard floor, and paint trim, doors and windows in a glossy black. The trim would look especially beautiful against white shiplap walls. Add in some wrought iron work, a glossy black barn door and you’ll have a sophisticated cottage style.


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